Why Did My Fan Stop Working?

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Updated August 16, 2022

Even if you have a premium fan, you may run into a few situations that leave you wondering, “Why did my fan stop working?” Symptoms include fan blades that spin slowly or have stopped moving entirely. Certain fan repairs require a professional electrician, but you can troubleshoot the common issues with this guide. Stick around to learn how to get airflow back into your home.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Ensure that your wall switch and pull cord are in the “on” position to power your fan.
  • Make sure your remote control’s batteries have power and replace them if they are dead.
  • Loose power wires, a worn motor, and dirty bearings are common culprits, but you need to look under the breaker panel and housing.

If you have the skills and are comfortable accessing the electrical panel in the motor housing, consider using our guide on how to test a fan motor to see if that’s where the problem lies. Reading about what a fan is can also help you understand the primary electrical connections and remote controls that go into each type of fan model. This is because all fans will have different housings and electrical requirements.

Insider Tip

Never hesitate to contact a licensed electrician if you’re uncomfortable working with the wiring under your fan’s plastic or metal housing.

That said, if you’re wondering why you can’t feel your fan, it probably isn’t an electrical issue or a bad switch at all. Check out our guide on why fans have 5 blades to understand how important the design of a fan is to airflow and the CFM rating.

Why Do Fans Stop Working?

Whether you have a pedestal fan or ceiling model, a few common issues can stop your fan from spinning.

Check the Power Source

Before moving on to more advanced ceiling fan troubleshooting steps, if you’re using a floor, tower, or pedestal fan, ensure it’s plugged into the outlet and turned on. For ceiling fans, make sure it’s powered on at the switch. If everything’s okay there, check your circuit breaker box to ensure you haven’t tripped a breaker.

Dead Remote Control

If there are no issues with the power source, you may have a dead remote control and no longer have adequate power to operate the fan. Replace the batteries in the fan remote, and see if it works.

Loose Wires

Wobbly ceiling fans can develop loose connections that affect the power supply to the motor. The electrical wires are underneath the fan assembly, so you’ll need to remove this to ensure the wires are connected. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker first, then check to see if the white, green, and black wires are connected. If not, you’ll need to reconnect them or call a professional.

Bad Electric Motor

The average lifespan of a fan motor varies by make and model. A ceiling fan motor should last an average of eight years, while a box fan should last about five years. You can replace a fan motor, but experts usually advise a complete replacement if the motor goes bad.

Warning

Turn off the circuit breaker before investigating a ceiling fan issue because you can get seriously injured by the direct electrical power that goes to your fan.

Dirty Ball Bearings

If you allow dirt or dust to collect on your fan, your fan’s bearings can go bad. A worn-out bearing will not move correctly, causing rotation issues for your fan’s blades. You can clean the bearings and use fan lubricant to ensure smooth rotation.

STAT: A 2020 US EIA (Energy Information Agency) survey showed that 78.1% of American homes built between 2000 and 2020 have at least one ceiling fan. (source)

Why Did My Fan Stop Working FAQs

How do I clean a ceiling fan?

You can use basic cleaning tools like microfiber cloths and a duster wand to clean your ceiling fan. Ensure you don't use harsh chemicals or spray water directly on the blades or the plastic housing. You should clean dust and dirt from your fan once a week.

How long do ceiling fans last?

Most ceiling fans can last up to ten years. That said, your fan blades and motor will wear out faster for users who constantly run their fan.

What ceiling fan direction is best for summer?

You should set your ceiling fan to spin counter-clockwise to ensure a cool breeze during the hot summer months.
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